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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
Kobayashi Maru


Author: Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Pocket Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.50
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 5480 6
ISBN-10: 1 4165 5480 7
Available 06 October 2008

The new Coalition of Planets is a fragile child, as Jonathan Archer knows. Still full of suspicion for each other, this organization is about to be tested to breaking point when coalition trade ships come under attack. The evidence would seem to point to the Klingons, but Archer knows that the real threat is the Romulans - the  problem is he has no evidence. Pressured by Starfleet to follow orders, and by his friends to follow his instinct, Archer must choose which path he will follow...

Kobayashi Maru by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels is another new Enterprise novel which, whilst not explicitly mentioned, looks to be book three of a series - following on from The Last Full Measure and The Good Men That Do, which should tell the story of the war between the Coalition and Romulans and the founding of the Federation. This is no small task, not just because the constrictions of canon, but also the high expectations of fans that have been waiting a long time to discover how the scenario panned out.

The book opens with the Coalition still wary of each others agendas. The Enterprise and Columbia have been ordered to traverse the trade routes back and forth in an attempt to stop attacks on shipping by an unknown enemy. The book's action flits between Earth, Vulcan, the various ships, and the Klingon and Romulan home worlds. The ship, a retro fitted Klingon freighter whose title adorns the book, was introduced in The Wrath of Kahn to demonstrate a no-win scenario and the Enterprise's encounter with it keeps this ethos with the text of the distress signal pulled straight from the film script.

The title, well most of it, has already appeared as another novel The Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar - though her book concentrated on the test rather than the real vessel. In fact the test has proved popular with various writers over the years, so it was nice to see what really happened to the original vessel - though I guess it will come as no surprise that things do not end well.

Oddly enough, the show's relative short run has been a boon to writers as the characters had yet to be set in stone, which allows flexibility in depiction. The authors have done Archer proud with this book, allowing their character a full gambit of emotions, making him feel like a rounded character that the reader can sympathise with. Trip also comes off well in this respect as he continues his deep cover espionage in an effort to stop the Romulans developing warp seven technology.

If I had one criticism it’s that the rescue attempt by Malcolm and T’Pol did little to add to the plot, feeling more like filler. It felt a little like the authors had a couple of characters left which they were not sure what to do with, so they send them off on a trip which ultimately adds nothing to the overall book. The actions that they take seem pointless and out of character, rather than offering any character development.  

The book is well balanced between political machinations, space blasting shenanigans and character moments, so there should be a little of something for everybody. It is a little slow to get in gear but then that just leaves more time to anticipate the fateful encounter with the Kobayashi Maru. What would you do?


Charles Packer

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